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She is a Star. Annerly Poulos earns Australian Open junior Wildcard

Rising Canberra tennis star Annerly Poulos is preparing to launch a raid on the Australian Open junior girls championship as she continues to turn heads en route to her first junior Grand Slam.

Fourteen-year-old Poulos has been gifted a main draw wildcard after she won Tennis Australia's December Showdown to be crowned Australia's 16 and under girls champion.

Poulos went on a giant-killing run after emerging from the qualifying rounds to claim a comprehensive 6-0 6-2 win over fifth seed Zara Brankovic in the final at Melbourne Park on Sunday.

"It's just been a really tough week and I'm just really relieved and happy that I got through every match and it was a really tough draw, especially with all the players that I played," Poulos said.

"They were really good. I'm just really happy that I got through the match and the year. I had to qualify and I had to win two matches to get into the main draw before the whole tournament started.

"I took things one step at a time and obviously tried to do my best in every single thing I did. I'm trying in all of my wins and losses and it all turns out well in the end so I've just got to keep going with that and keep believing in myself."

Poulos' coach Todd Larkham wasn't surprised by the Canberra prodigy's stunning run and says she has well and truly earned a break – but she'll be back training on January 1.

"Tennis is tough in that respect, there's not much off-season," Larkham said.

"But she'll get a couple of weeks just to enjoy some time with her family and reflect on the year, and get ready for another 12 months ahead of her next year.

"She's going to be playing some bigger tournaments in Asia and she'll be really stepping up trying to play some pro events as well so it's going to be a tough year but it should be a good one we hope."

Poulos' future is a promising one and if all goes to plan she could follow in the footsteps of Australia's best players, who will converge on Canberra for the Fed Cup in February.

Canberra will host Australia's Fed Cup tie against Ukraine with Ash Barty set to play a huge role in the wake of her meteoric rise to No. 17 in the world, in a journey similar to that of Poulos – albeit on a much bigger scale.

"[Barty has] been the underdog in all of her matches, a significant amount of matches in her comeback because she was generally always the lower-ranked player," Australian Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik said.

"She also shows how good she is against the top players so I think she will relish the fact that she will be playing in the bigger events."



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